By Lauren Olson, October 8 2019 —
Hello to all my fellow dog-owning friends. As you all know, having a dog is pretty much one of life’s greatest gifts, and the joy our furry-canine compadres bring to our lives is immeasurable. Something that has come to my attention, however, is a lack of awareness and responsibility of owners I meet out on the paths and trails. I definitely don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be a trail-police but some things I see and experience have got to be addressed, not only for the enjoyment of everyone out with their dogs, but more importantly, for everyone’s safety. I’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest issues that have come to my attention and I hope it serves as a reminder the next time you head out the door with your pooch.
On-leash pathways are marked as such because they are often shared with bikers, walkers, runners, families with little kids and other dog-owners. Keeping your dog on leash and respecting these paths is not only for the safety and best interest of others, but also for your dog. Nobody wants to have an accidental collision on a bike with a freelance dog, nor does everyone — I know this is shocking — want your dog to come running up to them. The other very important point is that people with dogs who are not able to go into off-leash parks, for various reasons, walk their dogs here. My dog is aggressive towards other dogs, so with off-leash areas out of the question, these pathways are our designated areas. However, there are so many people who choose to walk on on-leash pathways with their dogs off-leash that I have to be on constant alert and ready to warn owners to call their dog back, many of whom cannot, which unfortunately can end up in a completely avoidable dog fight. It is poor etiquette to not respect others on these paths by keeping your dog on a leash. Forgetting that just because your dog is friendly with others, doesn’t mean everyone else’s dogs are can cause unnecessary conflicts, stress and injury.
Off-leash areas should be a safe and fun place for dogs and their owners to enjoy space to run free and play with others. If you have a dog who is not good with other dogs, don’t go here! As the owner of an aggressive dog, out of respect for everyone, I never venture into off-leash parks because it’s simply not safe or fair to others. These parks are also basically a free for all and if you’re not okay with dogs running around, between, and into you, it’s not the place for you. These parks can only exist if everyone uses them responsibly, so please, keep an eye on your dog and make sure they’re playing well with others.
Pick up after your dog:
This ought to be a no-brainer, but just in case it isn’t, bring poop bags with you and for the love of God, pick up after your dog. Nobody wants to step in a pile of shit because you “forgot” to bring bags. Also, don’t let your dog pee on someone’s lawn, especially if you have a female dog. It’s rude, the grass will die and, believe it or not, some people take pride in how their grass grows and you letting your dog pop a squat on the front lawn is just plain disrespectful.
Keep your “advice” to yourself:
Unless explicitly asked, please keep your so-called good advice to yourself. You have absolutely no idea what any dog’s history is, what their current situation is, what the owners have done or are doing for their dog or anything else. So even if it’s well intentioned, realize that you probably really don’t know what’s best for someone else’s dog* and keep those opinions to yourself.
*In cases of abuse, intervene if appropriate and report it.
Treat everyone respectfully and realize that things happen:
Guys, we’re all human and we all just want to get out and have a good time with our furry best friends. Remembering that nobody wants to get into any kind of altercation and maintaining a level of mutual respect goes a long ways. Also, keep in mind that even the friendliest dog is still a (partly) wild animal and things happen. Just like people, sometimes dogs get into little tiffs or other unexpected environmental factors that can cause unexpected behaviours. Stay alert and understand that you’re dealing with people who are out with, often, the thing they love most in the world, and emotions and defences are inevitably heightened. Be nice, respect the environment in which you’re in and enjoy the heck out of your time with your dog.